The debut album entitled White Clouds is a collaboration between U.K based brothers Paul and Jack Davis. From an early age the pair were inspired by listening to bands and artists such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Neal Morse amongst others, and set about creating progressive, artistic, unique, dynamic and innovative music with an atmospheric sound.
The result is an album of 10 original songs full of drama, emotion and melody. A concept album which dates back to pre 1914 and follows the life of a young British man who moves from the south coast of England to the centre of Berlin a few months before the First World War breaks out. White Clouds gives a modern backdrop to The Great War.
The first writing sessions of the album began in the spring of 2006. With a few ideas being put down, the first song they worked on was Argonne Wood. The Morning Fields of Amber Grey and Stars of May followed shortly after. Russ Wilson (http://www.myspace.com/russwilsonuk) was later asked to record the drums at the start of January 2007. The band found Russ on the internet via the above myspace link and remarkably he just happened to live a couple of streets away!
After a couple of meetings with Russ he introduced the band to Nick Andrew (http://www.nickandrew.net). Nick had shown a keen interest in the music and engineered the recording of the drums. When they had finished the drum tracks Nick offered to produce the album and both he and the band were happy and very excited about the prospect of working together.
Jack- We wanted to do an album, so we knew we would have to get more people involved. Russ and Nick knew exactly what we wanted to achieve and were instrumental in making it happen.
The initial recording with Nick took place towards the end of February 2007. Nick- The early mixes sound fantastic. The band have some great ideas and I have had great fun so far in helping them to realise their vision. This recording was to continue for around 18 months before the album finally came to its conclusion.
White Clouds sees a subdued start with such tracks as White Clouds (beginning) and First Night in Berlin. The album however builds right the way through and each song has its own feel and identity. Vienna Circle also deliver an air of sophistication with their song structures considering the young age of the pair, and every song is deeply textured, consistent to their message and full of melody. Paul- White Clouds is a brilliant example of where we are now as a band. We have found a quite unique sound in our first album.. I’m excited to hear how our music will progress in future albums. Two of the ten tracks border the ten minute mark in length. The Morning Fields of Amber Grey lasting just over eleven minutes and brings with it a truly graceful chorus that flows right through the song. The track Conquered Air lasts just under ten minutes and gets right amongst the action featuring the build up to a defining moment in this young man’s life. White Clouds (finale) closes the album in dramatic fashion. The song starts by revisiting the opening theme and builds to a memorable conclusion.
2. Review of their album.
White Clouds (beginning) - Seagulls and ocean open this with gentle guitar filling in all around. The protagonist of the story arrives on the continent from England. “They’ll be white clouds beyond the hills.” That optimism before something incredible and life changing begins.
First Night in Berlin - Then the train ride from the coast to Berlin. “New to the city and so much to see.” Meeting friends throughout the city. Imagine coming to Berlin for all the excitement of economic development and culture the city offered and to begin to build friendships only to see the tide of war change everything.
The transition moves too fast here though. This would have been a great place for a much longer guitar or instrumental interlude. Things moved much slower during this period of time.
“Five months have gone now a war is declared.” “Friends now ignore me their hands are stained red.” The tide turns quickly as WWI is declared and friends become embroiled in the conflict. “Can’t draw attention in the language I speak.” “Where will I go to?” Imagine being caught behind enemy lines after a war starts.
Good supporting music, piano, strings keys and guitar. Really sets the stage well.
Stars of May - Hurried pace of flutes, keys, strings and drums as the protagonist is hurrying to get out of the country. “Pack the essentials; I’m planning to leave tonight.” “Must be tonight.” “Mile after mile under darkness with tired eyes and tired mind.”
Sitting back and enjoying the stars and dreaming of better times. Good guitar riffs and instrumental interludes.
The Morning Fields of Amber Grey - Keys and guitar open this one and the first real prog sounds are introduced for this epic. Very good guitar riffs as the protagonist walks on towards his escape. Trying to remember the good times while looking at all the despair surrounding him from a very cruel war.
“I’ll find you.” The constant refrain of trying to find an exit to the trauma of war. Drums keys, and very cool, spacey, Hackett – like, guitar riffs surround you to drive home the effects of a search in the dark for a way home. Must travel by night to avoid questions and anyone discovering his English heritage, now that he’s in enemy lands.
Well played and designed music to support the story.
Argonne Wood - Spacey guitars and keys surround veterans discussing the feeling and experience of being in the trenches of the Argonne forests.
Falling - Fantastic acoustic guitar solo opens this song supported by keys. One of the best songs on the album. The guitar on this song is fantastic. “Can you see them marching…they’re walking over me.” “If I knew.” “That morning.” “There’d be no point in calling…” A definite feeling of hopelessness in a land where people were used as fodder for the shells of war.
A Break in the Clouds - A beautiful piano intro opens this piece. “Could it be that all of our dreams are gone forever.” “They’ll take away our future, but I’ll be strong.” War is horrible in the dreams and the future it takes away forever. The piano, drums, keys and guitar really captures this feeling well.
Conquered Air - Bells, piano and vocals open this one. “Something doesn’t feel right.” “I can’t hear the thoughts in my mind.”
Great piano, key and guitar interlude which picks up pace and delivers on the race to get home. The shorter epic on the album. Great keys, drums and guitar to set the mood.
Her Green Eyes Blew Goodbye - Keys open this one very well. “The train is still boarding, their faces glum.” “Look at the way this place has changed.” “The world is a ruin.” “Take me away.” You can definitely feel the gloom surrounding the change in the world in this song. Nice climbing guitar riffs.
White Clouds - Gun shot or artillery fire and then the slow guitar opens this one. “Fear is believing there’s no hope.” “They’ll be white clouds beyond the hill.” Still with hope to get back home and forget all that has been seen and experienced. There will be a future despite the nasty present and past. A nice way to leave the story. If we survived this traumatic time, then we will survive what is in front of us today.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
War is hell. It changes everything and they do a good job of documenting it with words and music. A story delivered as a debut album and a very good attempt at an epic album to start your career. You never know it could be your first and last album, so make it big. And they do. Very courageous to start this way and I respect them for the effort.
However, the story needed more depth and character development. The music is good and I hope they sometime go back and take some time to develop the story in more depth, because it was an interesting and important story to tell. We and especially the younger generations need to remember history so we won’t repeat it.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
It adds new stories and ideas to the pool of ideas in the prog/art music genre. It is wonderful music delivered by two talented brothers to help leave a message for their and future generations.
The music supporting the story is very good, but not something that changes the genre. It is well played music that matches the mood of the story.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Rating: 8/10 – It is nice to listen to but the lack of depth in the story and music mean it will not be a constant companion. However, this band is now on my radar and I look forward to their next album.
Reviewed by Prof on August 26th, 2009